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Drug Abuse: The Chemical Tomb

Published 1969

Interesting anti-drug film criticizing drug use as an inhibitor of necessary social change. Director: Alan Kishbaugh. Camera: Charles Sutton. Narrator: Chuck Bowman.

Run time 18:28
Producer Film Distributors International
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Stresses the dangers of becoming physically and emotionally dependent on drugs even after limited use and instills a desire, based on knowledge derived from accurate information, never to experiment.

More sociologically oriented than Narcotics: Pit of Despair (also on this program), The Chemical Tomb condemns drugs for inhibiting the "new mass mind, a nowness as it takes place." Stating that "a nation in turmoil needs the newness of its young," it praises the impulses leading to social change. This is a pretty liberal message, and the film continues: "Drugs are not the proper tools with which to change a society that somehow hasn't fulfilled all its promise." None of this theorizing prevents the film from being entertaining, and it contains a teenage drug party and the usual bogus psychedelia.

Visuals include:
Marijuana (pot) party (good)
VS college campuses
VS newspaper headlines of protests and dissent at colleges and universities during the 1960s
VS pot smoking
VS teenagers' party with drugs (good)
Good LSD trip sequence, very tacky psychedelia

CU Hands rolling joint
Man lights joint, passes it around circle
Another man smoking from pipe

Scenes from big university (looks like Berkeley)
VO: "These people no longer feel constrained by the social rules of the past."
VO: "This exploration, this search for new values has led into new and dangerous area,
the use of narcotics and hallucinogens The brain, the body, indeed the freedom to do can be so jeopardized by these drugs....."
"The turned on people, who seem to set so many of today's lifestyles, are not the only one smoking grass, popping bennies or dropping acid."
VO: "These substances are extremely dangerous. This trend, toward drugs, has alarmed every responsible segment of the community."
Scene of blue car driving down street.
VO: "Aside from its illegality, there is a medical risk to the brain and body. Perhaps, the biggest risk is the placing of the psyche in peril"
CU Money, drugs change hands.
Scene of drug deal on the street in a suburban area
Voice overs with close ups of various drugs
"Red Devils" - red Seconal pills
"Nembutal or yellow jackets" - yellow pills
"Tuinals or rainbow" - pills CU
CU Hands opening bottle of pills
VO: "Under the effects of the drug, there tends to be a distortion of time and of course, the person is confused and the person may accidentally take more drug than he had anticipated. Forgetting that he had just taken a dose a few minutes before."
CU Nurse putting drugs into syringe
CU Syringe
CU Person shooting up
Three boys on suburban curbside
CU Glue-sniffing preparations
VO: "An increasing number of children are showing up with brain damage, and what we call chronic brain disease."
CU Joints
CU Teen boy smoking joint
Several shots of joints being smoked
CU Mortar and pestle with white powder. Home prep of pills
Boy sits next to teen girl, offers her pills
She says no
CU Pills
She accepts pill
CU Girl's face looking confused. Colored lights flash on her face....airline, carnival flashes.
VO: "He is virtually, very alive in a chemical tomb."
More drug taking scenes
Inside police car
POV from back seat
Scene of kids getting arrested in suburban area
Scenes of kids in court
CU Woman taking pills out of bottle, looks at herself in mirror
CU Drug sale
Scene of two nurses in hospital
Nurse feeds man in traction
More drug taking scenes
Inside police car - POV from back seat
Scene of kids getting arrested in suburban area
Scenes of kids in court
CU Woman taking pills out of a bottle, she looks at herself in mirror
CU Drug sale
Scene of two nurses in hospital
Nurse feeds man in traction
Ken Smith makes preliminary notes and says this: "This is the now generation. They feel disenchanted with the world around them. They are a part of the wave of the future." They represent "a new mass mind, a nowness as it takes place." "The age of bobbysox and ice cream sodas is gone. These people no longer feel constrained by the social rules of the past." "An older generation could learn about fresh thinking from them." "free thinking" but many have simply "dropped out." "They have made their own peace with America and are now involved in finding out who they are." "A nation in turmoil needs the newness of its young." DRUG DEALERS ALWAYS HAVE ACNE SCARS AND SUNGLASSES. "The brain, the body, indeed the freedom to do can be so jeapordized by these drugs, that new politics, more realistic values, and a meaningful, less materialistic society may never have the opportunity of becoming a reality." drug abuse is not limited to "the turned-on people" "placing of the psyche in peril" "they may become total drop-outs" "try and cut through the undue propaganda" John T. Burroughs, M.D., Medical Director of Narcotics Education, Los Angeles District Attorney's Youth Advisory Council warns us about "psychic dependence" red devils, yellow jackets, rainbows "barbiturates" "smoking typical pot usually produces mind-altering or hallucinogenic experiences. In high doseage it parallels LSD." "an ever increasing abyss" "vicious cycle" party of teen boys wearing short sleeve shirts with collar buttons and girls wearing plaid skirts " avoid the reality of his failures" by using drugs "he has lost his capability to be responsible, he's lost his ability to be a worthwhile, successful student...and down and down he spins...virtually buried alive in a chemical tomb." drugs thwart the teenager's yen to "make his own decisions;" to become "a mature adult." "In taking drugs he is putting himself into a position where he cannot make decisions, where he is only irresponsible. He is cutting his life off." It must've been great to have been a kid then, and get to participate in all these party scenes; inhaling deeply, closing your eyes on the hemp-paper joints. "It is not, as many seem to believe today, an unenlightened law." "Is the gamble of drug exploration worth this?" as helmeted riot police lead handcuffed fresh-scrubbbed teens down a suburban driveway of a "good home" to their squad car (they thoughfully parked in the street). Courts are crowded with young offenders. "Tragically, many of them sre from good homes...and have opportunities that are available in no other country in the world." "immature and irresponsible" actions "A criminal record is never an asset. It can mean the end of a fine future." "this is a time of change" "drugs have been used as a principal means of rebellion against authority" "drugs are not the proper tools with which to change a society that somehow hasn't fulfilled all its promise" "The ability to work for effective changes of any kind depends on clear and disciplined minds" "find themselves snared and deluded. Illicit drugs are sold for a price: the price of helplessness and suffering for the buyer." However "many of today's young people are 'turning on' to world that needs more involvement. More self-less-ness." fresh-scrubbed candystripers feeding traction patient with a straw "The extreme danger today is that which is caused by the closed mind." the need for "clear-thinking young people" with "common sense".



Reviewer: the sandwich lover - - January 29, 2008
Subject: Take your pills calmly
I've dug out this film several times but barely used any footage from it for my projects. It's no match for the narration on "Narcotics - Pit of Despair" a film that "get's with the countdown and blasts off to kicksville." I recommend that one if you want entertainment and lots of good ideas. I tried to find out more about the writer and director of this "Chemical snooze" film - "life of the party" Alan Kishbaugh, but didn't get too far. It appears that this is the only film he ever made. I wonder if he believed his "society will improve with your drug-free help" or whether he liked to booze it up now and then. This film sure frowns on enjoying life. The world needs productive thinkers! Now hand all your pills to me!
Reviewer: autoguy - - May 16, 2006
Subject: Tune in, turn on, and drop out!
OMG, the ravages of those evil DRUGS! Arrested development, long hair, and those lovely short skirts fill this instructional video outlining the types of drugs available, and the proper usage of them! For some strange reason, the youth of that era could not be satisfied with the simple habit of dousing their brains with alcohol to arrest their development and perpetuate domestic bedlam, and keep their drug use hidden in the medicine cabinet where it belonged. The accepted covert use of sleeping pills and diet pill prescriptions becomes openly accepted? *gasp* Lucky for the population of today, we have moved beyond that to soak our brains with a myriad of antidepressants, and properly instruct our children from a very young age by addicting them to dangerous narcotics like Ritalin. Ahhh, progress!
Reviewer: Robot Mike - - April 22, 2006
Subject: Dull as all get-out.
This was all pretty standard. The film features a rather boring lecturist, and goes on a little too long. Though the music is good, the narrator renders it useless by talking all over it.

Oh, and speaking of the music: some of it was also used in "Narcotics: Pit of Dispair"; (listen to the bass when the depressed gal sits down by the window). The beginning sequence, with the hands preparing drugs, was also reminiscient of the nacotics flick. However, "Narcotics..." was 10 times better.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - September 16, 2005
Subject: Drug Use How-To
This 60s anti-drug film would never fly today, as it includes lots of detailed scenes of teenagers using various drugs, enough so it could be accused of teaching drug abuse techniques. Although a law enforcement drug expert and the narrator drone on and on about how terrible drugs are, what we see is kids rolling joints, close-ups of shooting up, and even a scene of gradeschoolers sniffing glue using a washcloth. There is, of course, the obligatory scene of a drug trip, and plenty of footage of 60s kids partying, which should bring back memories for those who were teens during that time. Despite this campiness, the film actually has a sensible message in that it points out that you can hardly change society if you are stoned out of your gourd most of the time. For that particular generation of teens, that probably had some leverage. That is, if its intended audience wasnÃÂt too busy taking notes on all the using techniques shown.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Reviewer: bruisedtoes - - March 26, 2004
Subject: Chemical tomb
A surprisingly introspective approach to the national drug problem, considering the era it was made in.
The film professes to "...try and cut through the undue propaganda on both sides of the drug problem" with drug guide, Dr. John T. Boroughs [Med.Dir.Narc.Edu, LA], who is friendly and entertainingly comfortable with street-drug nomenclature.
It also suggests that the police should not be the only ones involved in the counter effort.
Enough cheesy displays of drug use and psychedelia to satiate the retro-novelty seeker.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - April 26, 2003
Subject: Remember... Don't Do Drugs!
An ode to the evil of drugs starts out great, with a party going on, groovy music playing, people in great fashions dancing around, and, uh, a kid with a aeresol spray can... Soon, a interesting lecture starts about the different kind of drugs and the side effects. It seems the expert the filmmakers chose was apparently too boring as they cut in and out of his speech at will. The consequences of drug dealing are also explored. Nice acting, great sets and wild music add up to a cool film.
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